Tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC 288, we are going to see a five-round welterweight title eliminator. Former title challenger Gilbert Burns (22-5) has taken a quick turnaround to take on the surging Belal Muhammad (22-3, 1 NC) tomorrow night.
We just saw Gilbert Burns less than a month again at UFC 287 take on Jorge Masvidal. In what turned out to be Masvidal’s retirement fight, Burns put on a masterclass pretty much dominating the fight wherever it went. It was Burns’ second straight win after the Khamzat Chimaev loss.
Since moving up to the welterweight division, Burns has gone 7-2 with the only two losses coming to Chimaev and former champion Kamaru Usman. He’s looking to secure his second title shot with a win tomorrow night over Belal Muhammad.
Back in 2019, Belal Muhammad lost a decision to Geoff Neal. Since that loss, he hasn’t lost. He has one No Contest which came against the current champ Leon Edwards, but outside of that, he’s 8-0. Prior to the loss he had won four fights in a row dating back to 2017.
If you’re keeping track, Muhammad is 12-1, 1 NC in his last fourteen fights which includes three four-fight winning streaks. However, every time he’s gone for the fifth, his progress has been halted. Will his fortune change at UFC 288?
UFC 288 Prediction
Belal Muhammad’s last two fights have really stood out to me. In his last fight, his boxing looked great and he stopped Sean Brady on the feet in the second round handing Brady’s his first loss. Prior to that, he defeated Burns’ best friend and lead training partner Vicente Luque.
We all know Muhammad has good wrestling and pressure. However, it’s been his boxing and boxing defenses which has really impressed me. This fight is going to be fascinating because of the way these two cancel each other out.
Muhammad has great wrestling, but Burns might have the best Jiu Jitsu in the division. The former UFC title challenger is also the much faster and explosive fighter especially in the early rounds. If the fight was three-rounds, I’d really like Durinho.
However, over the course of five rounds, I’m not sure how well the gas tank of Burns will hold up if this fight turns into a grueling matchup. We saw Muhammad hold up just fine in his matchup against Luque over the course of five rounds. Meanwhile, we’ve seen Burns gas in three round fights with a high pace.
If Muhammad can survive the early onslaught of Burns at UFC 288, I think he has a great shot at winning in the later rounds. If Burns cannot get Muhammad out early, he needs to converse energy as well as he can because Muhammad is going to try to burn him out.
I find myself really liking Belal Muhammad here. He finally will break through and get the biggest win of his career tomorrow night. The first two rounds might be dicey, but a strong surge between the middle and championship rounds gets him the W.
Prediction: Belal Muhammad by Decision